Sunday, 13 February 2011

Film Review: RAISING ARIZONA (1987)

Writers/Directors: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Uncredited)
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

Genre: Comedy
UK release date 10th July 1987

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 13th February 2011.


I do like the films of the Coen brothers, in particular their earlier works. This is one I have seen a couple of times before but this is the first time I’ve reviewed it. What we have is a brilliantly scripted piece with some great performances and a pretty crazy plot to boot! More of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters please mind the baby while I write the next paragraph).

NOTE: Although every effort is made to give as little away as possible in my summaries, sometimes a little extra may slip out. If you feel you may read something here that may spoil your future enjoyment of the film then PLEASE DO NOT read the following paragraph. (I don’t know… one person whinges and you’ve got to put disclaimers all over the place!!)

H.I. McDunnough is a repeat offender; he robs convenience stores. He is often at the police station where he meets and falls in love with Edwina (‘Ed’ for short), a cop. They get married and live happily for a while… that is until they decide to start a family. You see, Ed discovers she can’t have babies and this dashes the hopes of the young couple. And then they hear of the ‘Arizona Qunits’; five babies born to Nathan and Florence Arizona. Thinking they’ve probably got more than enough to deal with, H.I. and Ed decide to steal one for themselves… and this is where it all begins. Now, in the interests of not giving too much away, and because I got whinged at (you know who you are) I’m not going to say any more here… although I would like to.

First of all, a truly excellent script, the Coens were really on form when they wrote this one. There is some tremendous dialogue, although the pacing does go a little awry in places. I think it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from both Nicolas Cage as H.I. McDunnough and Holly Hunter as Edwina ‘Ed’ McDunnough. Also worthy of note are; Trey Wilson as Nathan Arizona, John Goodman as Gale Snoats, William Forsythe as Evelle Snoats, Sam McMurray as Glen and Frances McDormand as Dot.

The opening of this film is one of the best I’ve seen, beautifully paced, funny and it sets up the characters and the situation perfectly. Of course, this momentum cannot be maintained throughout and, although efforts are made to raise it, it never quite reaches the same heights. The characters are all fully formed and excellently portrayed, which seems to be a rare thing these days, particularly in comedy films. So, over all, a great script with some brilliant dialogue and excellent performances but the pacing is a little uneven… still very much recommended.

My score: 8.3/10

1 comment:

Jack L said...

I love this film!
One of my favourite Coen Brothers films.

Great review, very concise and to the point!